I’ve talked before about the importance in Ignatian prayer of asking for a grace. St. Ignatius recommended that we begin each prayer period by articulating what it is we want from God, what is the grace we seek. And he encourages us to be bold in our requests for grace. As one of the people involved in my training in retreat work would say: Ask big.
I thought about that as I was reading online a sermon given by Rev. Mariann Budde, outgoing rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. (“Outgoing” because she is about to take over her new duties as Bishop of the Episcopal diocese in Washington, D.C.) In one of the sermons she gave recently, she told a story about a former British ambassador to the United States.
At the height of the Cold War, he was asked in an interview for a Washington Post feature article around Christmas what he wanted for Christmas. He replied that all he really wanted was a jar of fruit preserved in ginger, apparently a favorite of his.
The feature article was published a few days later, highlighting what various members of the diplomatic corps wanted for Christmas. The article reported that one said peace and goodwill, another said disarmament, another peace it the Middle East. And the British ambassador, reported the article, asked for his jar of gingered fruit.
Rev. Budded notes, “Sir Nicholas was surely the only one of those interviewed who got what he wanted that Christmas; but by comparison his hope, his desire, seemed to lack a bit in imagination and courage… While sometimes we may want too much; other times we don’t want quite enough.”
I think it is right to say that often we don’t want quite enough. Be bold. It is true that we need to ask the right things. But ask big when asking God for God’s graces.